PRETORIA: Mercurial paceman Kagiso Rabada produced the second-best match figures by a South African to propel his side to a consolation 280-run victory over England in the fourth and final test on Tuesday.
The hosts needed little more than an hour on the final day to reduce England, who won the series 2-1, from 52 for three to 101 all out with Rabada returning match figures of 13-144 to confirm his rich potential.
The 20-year-old’s figures are second only to Makhaya Ntini’s 13-132 against West Indies in 2005 and Rabada became the youngest South African to take 10 wickets in a test match.
Although the series had already been decided, the victory was a welcome one for South Africa after a run of nine games without success stretching back more than a year had caused them to be knocked off the top of the world rankings by India.
“The boys were fired up for this test and we’ll enjoy the celebrations,” captain AB de Villiers said at the presentation ceremony.
“We showed a lot of character and hopefully we can build on this now. There is a bright future for us.”
Chasing an unlikely victory target of 382 on a wearing wicket, England’s hopes of batting out the day were undone by a combination of rash stroke-making and excellent swing bowling.
James Taylor (24) got a snorter from Morne Morkel (3-36) that brushed his glove and was caught by wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock to kickstart a procession of England batsmen.
Joe Root (20), who had already been dropped by De Kock off Dane Piedt, drove wildly at the spinner and was caught at slip by Dean Elgar.
Rabada then got in on the act as he was made to celebrate his record-breaking 10-wicket haul twice — first having Jonny Bairstow (14) caught at slip off a no-ball and then inducing another edge from the very next delivery to De Kock.
Man-of-the-series Ben Stokes (10) was caught at deep midwicket off Morkel as he fell into a short-ball trap, before Rabada cleaned up the tail efficiently for innings figures of 6-32.
“It’s been a disappointing five days with the way we have played,” England skipper Alastair Cook said. “We haven’t quite been on it and had to try hang in there. Credit to South Africa, they played well.”
The teams will now play a five-match one-day international series starting on Feb. 3, followed by two Twenty20 games.